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Western Digital Sentinel DX4000 Review Discussion


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#1 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 17 December 2011 - 05:12 PM

Western Digital announced the WD Sentinel DX4000 last month in an effort to bring easy to configure NAS storage to SMBs with fewer than 25 employees. At the core of the Sentinel is Microsoft's Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, an Intel 1.8 GHz Atom dual-core processor and two or four WD RE4-GP hard drives. Western Digital sells the Sentinel pre-configured with drives in either 4TB or 8TB models right now, with 6TB and 12TB models coming early next year. Given the Sentinel arrives with drives and is ready to roll, all it takes to get going is powering the unit up and connecting to the network, which is great for those who aren't used to dealing with storage appliances. Given the Microsoft software though, there's still plenty to tweak under the covers should SMBs with access to IT professionals care to do so.

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#2 lecaf

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Posted 21 December 2011 - 11:52 AM

Hi
about RAID rebuild this is a known "feature" of windows...(you didnt mention any hardware raid so I assume it's Windows doing the RAID).
MS did a lame implementation of rebuild, it rebuild ALL partitions (volumes) at the same time, so if you have 4 partitions the disk heads have to read/write re-position 4 times for each block. that can explain why you needed a week. Moreover this "feature" has an other drawback: disk will start dying if you rebuild often.

One question though how do you explain 2MB seq score... seems amazing compared to others...is it Memory caching? (that could explain write being faster than read in later tests). I aint got nothing against big memory caches it's just you better know it to equip your device with UPS or you ll miss data in case of power outage.
Thanks for the test, its he first challenge I see for WSS and it seems to perform honorably (I would have like some ISCSI tests too).
le

#3 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 22 December 2011 - 03:40 AM

Yea the RAID rebuild is not something you want to put up with more than once... heck more than zero times.

On the 2MB seq score, we test with IOMeter using 5GB sample sizes... well outside of the onboard cache amounts.

#4 malep

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Posted 08 March 2012 - 10:13 PM

Just want to say, NICE review but there is a problem....

How can you realy appreciate and understand the different graphic chart when you are color blind....

Peoples should be aware of this wa are not in 1950 but 2012.

If you want to know what it feel when I am trying to determine wich color belong to who... Just image a bunch of 25 black wires and I will ask you to pull out of that bunch the black wire...

Thanks :ph34r:

#5 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 09:26 AM

Just want to say, NICE review but there is a problem....

How can you realy appreciate and understand the different graphic chart when you are color blind....

Peoples should be aware of this wa are not in 1950 but 2012.

If you want to know what it feel when I am trying to determine wich color belong to who... Just image a bunch of 25 black wires and I will ask you to pull out of that bunch the black wire...

Thanks :ph34r:


Thanks for the feedback, we have been transitioning over to a more color-blind friendly chart system on newer reviews where the bars are labeled directly. If it would help you out in this particular case I could shoot over our excel files to make a more direct comparison between the models with specific datapoints per model.

#6 jtakeos

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Posted 13 April 2012 - 07:37 PM

Kevin, I recently read your full review, and I have a few questions. I saw that you did remove the mainboard from the NAS (photo is online); did you also take a photo of the space where the board fits, including any interface cards that it connects to? Can you explain to me how the drives interface with the mainboard? Can you identify the power supply dc output also?

The reason why I ask is simple (I hope): I just became the owner of one DX4000 mainboard (a local business closed and this was in a drawer in one of their desks) - one that seems to be a variant of the production board (extra pinouts, one on-board sata connector, etc.) - but now chassis, or other equipment. I would like to attempt to boot this board, and any info or photos you could provide would be appreciated.

#7 Dark Shadow

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 12:36 AM

Hi Kevin,

really loved your review. its good to people still using visual elements to help those like me learn about new products that could really improve their business. however, although i am technical minded this kind of NAS and RAID technology is a new area for me and i was hoping you could answer a few questions.

the small company that I work for is running a local server for emails and file sharing. the only problem is that its running windows sbs 2003 and only has a 500gig limit witch is constantly been archived to make more space for our work as we take on more clients. as part of this set up we are running a local domain rather than a home group on our computers. what i wanted to know is will we have any problems in running a device like this on our network even though we are using an internal domain and windows sbs 2003?

the other thing that I'm concerned about is how someone would go about backing up the files that are stored on a WD Sentinel? because all our files are stored on the server rather than on our own computers, making sure that we dont lose any files is vital. we would hate to lose all our work if there was a fire in our building.

i was also hoping you could tell me a little more about RAID rebuilds. in your review you said that you lost 6 days of time. is that because you couldn't access the NAS during its rebuild or because the transfer speed of files are that slow during the rebuild? i have only read up on the RAID set up after reading your review and already love the concept behind the RAID 5. dose a rebuild only occur when the power supply is interrupted or when you need to change over one of the disks?

you also mentioned that some disks aren't compatible with the NAS. is there a particular brand or type of disk that the NAS will only use? or will it only use WD brand replacements.

i am currently looking into getting one of the 12T versions.


Thanks.

#8 Kevin OBrien

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 11:16 AM

To address a few quick points right now (I'll come back later with the information on the domain aspects)

1. You can setup external backups from the Sentinel, either through automated online backups or transferring data from the RAID to an external drive connected to the DX4000.

2. The RAID rebuild times where we lost 6 days were more of a concern during the initial recovery, that Western Digital has since fixed. If you did a restore, it would be 5-6 days originally before the system came online. Currently it only takes 30-45 minutes to get it going again. During a drive-pulled situation, it would be a long period of time where items are still accessible, although transfer speeds are slow.

#9 Dark Shadow

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Posted 17 July 2012 - 06:21 PM

2. The RAID rebuild times where we lost 6 days were more of a concern during the initial recovery, that Western Digital has since fixed. If you did a restore, it would be 5-6 days originally before the system came online. Currently it only takes 30-45 minutes to get it going again. During a drive-pulled situation, it would be a long period of time where items are still accessible, although transfer speeds are slow.


thanks Kevin, after reading about the DX4000's rebuild time i was starting to worry because our company couldn't afford to lose a days work let alone 5-6 days! its a true relief to know that Western Digital has fixed the issue. i must admit that i am really impressed with your knowledge of the device and i look forward to reading the information regarding our local domain.


Thanks Again.

#10 Dark Shadow

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 06:20 PM

just another question regarding the NAS, with our current server you can run and open files straight off the server without having to copy them to your computer 1st. dose the Sentinel DX4000 have that same feature or do you need to download any files you want to work on before opening them?

#11 continuum

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Posted 23 July 2012 - 08:50 PM

and open files straight off the server without having to copy them to your computer 1st

If you're going through a regular Windows file share, you should be able to open them from any device...

#12 Dark Shadow

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Posted 24 July 2012 - 08:33 PM

If you're going through a regular Windows file share, you should be able to open them from any device...


ok thanks. is accessing the files on the DX4000 the same as just accessing a normal portable hard drive or is more like using a ftp client?

the main reason im asking this is cause our company is now expanding into a few locations and we will need to access the files quickly and easily from outside the main office. i know the DX4000 dose have the ability for outside use but i want to know more about the process of accessing files.

#13 rugger

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 12:53 AM

Strange, under linux, I can rebuild a 4 drive software RAID 5 array of cheap WD 2TB drives in well less then a day, while operating under normal workload conditions. (I accidently caused my array to go degraded a few times due to dodgy SAS controller firmware and my Intel Motherboard weirdness!)

#14 continuum

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 01:43 AM

You probably have much more CPU power in your RAID5 box than the dinky DX4000 does.

I have no idea personally about the rest, as I don't own one of these units. They look much too slow for our typical customer use.

#15 razblack

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Posted 02 November 2012 - 10:59 PM

has anyone been able to identify the mainboard model & manufacturer yet on the DX4000?


this thing is EFI based and rather hard to build sample setup with virtualbox for lab testing unattend installation with...

#16 deepthought

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Posted 24 January 2013 - 06:13 AM

If you want a simple backup device with moderate performance this box is ok. It doesn't have the bells and whistles of other makes but should prove reliable as it's relatively simple.

The low RAM precludes the running of many services from Storage Server itself.

The incremental PC backup is useful and works and you can direct to the NAS shares via \\dnsname\folder or \\xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx\folder.

It's locked to WD drives so don't try anything else.

I noticed the fan keeps going even after you shut it down, a bit silly.

Ok but no cigar.



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